These personal essay posts are the most difficult to write for me. It’s like going to the gym… Getting there is half the battle. Trying to decide what to write about is torture, but while I’m writing it and once I’m finished, I feel so accomplished.
This week’s post, although late, is due to Valentine’s Day just passing. V-day is always difficult for me. I’ve experienced traumatic events that the day has not been celebrated as it’s “supposed” to in a very long time. On Valentine’s day, nine years ago I found out that Cj died, eight years ago I helped my new group of friends go through a loss, and four years ago my parent’s separated and I helped my Mom move out. The days surrounding the 14th of February make me extremely emotional.
Ugh, being vulnerable sucks. I just asked Chelsea, “Does this part make me sound like I’m asking for sympathy?” and “Am I being too much here?” It’s a scary, scary thing being emotional. To really just go for it, here’s an excerpt from my Memoir.
I was lying on top of my crowded bed, with my boyfriend at the time on the edge of it, one of my roommates in between us, and my best friend on the other side of me hugging the wall. We were pretty high and talking about how we were going to get alcohol for the night since none of us was twenty-one or had fake IDs. My roommate’s boyfriend, Sean, was at work so we were including him in the plan making via text.
Somewhere in the conversation, between “we should hit up Chris” and “let’s just park outside that one 711” my roommate asked me,“Do you know a Cj?”
My heart dropped. The night before while my boyfriend was at work, Cj and I shared a few phone calls. Although I knew there was no way anyone could’ve known that, I feared that my secret was found out. Cj had recently gotten back from a tour in Afghanistan and was at a bar on the East Coast. He and I talked during his cigarette breaks in between his shots. He confessed his love to me and I fought back the butterflies I felt. He told me he had always loved me and I was the one for him. I kept it coy and reminded him over and over again that I was in a new relationship. Without him knowing, I was secretly wondering what it would have been like to still be with him. “Maybe we were always meant to be together,” I thought. By the last phone call of the night, around midnight, we confirmed his visit to San Diego. I told him “Summertime will be the perfect time to visit,” and repeated to him, “whatever you do, don’t drive tonight!”
I hadn’t realized that my mind wandered off and didn’t respond to my roommate Gio, until my boyfriend answered for me, “Ya, that’s her ex.”
I looked over at him, worried, but he didn’t seem bothered. Gio was in between us and I dropped my gaze to her, wondering how she even knew Cj existed.
“Sean wanted me to tell you…” Gio’s voice trailed off while she showed her phone’s screen to me. And there it was. The text that changed my life forever… again. The bright white screen, made the black contrasted words stand out boldly.
“Tell Tara that Cj died.”
I immediately sat up and grew hot. I inched my way to the bottom of the bed and once my feet reached the ground, I slid to the floor. Nobody said anything and I tried to wrap my head around what I had just read. My mind swirled with memories of our phone call the night before and pretty much every memory he and I shared in the previous years together. I ran my fingers along the brown shag carpet below me and not being surrounded by warm human bodies anymore, I could feel the cold air on my boiling skin. I noticed I was crying when I tasted salty tears. Suddenly the room was filled with movement and noise. My boyfriend didn’t know how to react because he had been there when Bj passed, so he walked out of the room. My roommate had moved to the bottom of the bed to ask me questions about him, which made me totally annoyed. My best friend, who knew him as well, was trying to console me after she had made her way down to the floor with me.
I didn’t know what to do but felt that I needed some sort of confirmation that this was just an evil joke. I knew Facebook would be littered with photos and cheesy quotes from his friend’s, and that just wasn’t good enough for me, so I called his Mom. Jason, his step-dad, answered and told me Lina couldn’t speak. I knew he meant she literally couldn’t get words out because I could hear her screaming hysterically in the background. He told me she’d call me later, but I knew I’d never get a callback. I hung up the phone and realized I had made my way to the kitchen during the phone call. I lowered myself to the floor, leaned to the right, and laid down. My body was limp and cooled off by the tile.
It wasn’t until later that night, a handful of vodka shots, and half a pack of cigarettes later, that I remembered it was Valentine’s day.
Here’s a picture of Cj and me on my 16th Birthday, years before he passed.